It's into an apocalyptic future with Activision's latest beat-'em-up. A huge corporate body called Centro-Holografix controls the two largest cities on the planet with a rod of iron. The company is evil, run by a creature known only as The Master. It controls normal humans (known as solids) with holographic hit squads. Two such warriors are Hammerfist (so called because of his hammer-shaped cybernetic hands) and Metalisis. But whilst in their stasis holding-pens something goes terribly wrong: due to a computer error they're fused into one form. Upset at this they/it want to find a way to split their personalities and revert to normal existence, only possible if the way back to Centro-Holografix is found.
It is up to you to guide the amalgamated duo through four game loads filled with myriad creatures and danger to reach The Master and wreak revenge. By switching from one half of the fused duo to the other you have their different characteristics at your disposal: Hammerfist's strength (though slow and clumsy) and three weapons - laser gun, hammer fist and piston power fist, and Metalisis' unarmed combat and athletic agility.
You start the game in an underwater complex. A wide range of enemy - human, not so human and robotic try to knock down the energy level of the hero currently under control. But they're only half your trouble: a security system must be breached before you can exit each room.
As a bonus the destruction of the enemy bestows icons that have differing effects. Some top up your energy levels, although headbutting a handy power point (when found) also has the same effect. Ammo is limited, so Hammerfist must collect the laser and hammer fist top ups. Don't miss too many icons because The Masters' energy level increases: let this hit the top and skill icons appear which drain energy when touched. Another problem faced is when vital items are only to be found on ledges Hammerfist can't reach. That's where Metalisis' gymnastic skills come in handy.
The journey is a long and treacherous one, through water and desert, to reach The Masters and the final showdown: be prepared because they are!
Although a lot of blasting is needed to get anywhere, an equal amount of brain power must be employed. Switching between the two characters is essential to move anywhere, so you will need to perform some very quick changes indeed. Hammerfist's graphical details are quite stunning, especially the backdrops that change from scene to scene. The character sprites are well drawn and smoothly animated, although the enemy creatures resemble rejects from a cutesy Japanese game, but these are post nuclear conflict times I suppose. Vivid Image and Activision have produced a 'must buy' game!
MARK ... 95%
'Hammerfist is great! The subtle blend of arcade and strategy elements makes this a taxing and highly playable game. The enemy troops are tough so and so's, and their sheer numbers will cost you life after life initially. But after a bit of practice a flick of the wrist changes you from shape to shape without a thought. It was difficult to drag myself away from this long enough to write this comment, but you deserve to know what a classy piece of programming this is. The sprites are monochromatic, but the attention to detail on all character and background sprites are praiseworthy. Sound, a great tune and atmospheric sound fx, is fab too. Now all I have to do is kick Mark off the computer and have another go.'
NICK ... 94%
Hands up those who remember Last Ninja 2 on the Speccy! Good, wasn't it? Well, Hammerfist has nothing to do with that. Well, okay, it does a bit - it's got the same flip-screen sort of design, similar fiendish puzzles to be worked through before you can progress onto the next screen, and the same beat-'em-up element. And it's also rather good. Hmm. Quite a lot in common really. And on a closer inspection it's not hard to see why.
It's been designed by the same people, you see - Mev Dink, Steven Dunn and friends. The boys all used to work at System 3, but now they run their own little programming outfit called Vivid Image, and, at last - here's their first game ready for release. Right, so how's it all work?
Well, the storyline thingie's quite complicated in an arcadey, Cyberpunky sort of way, but in actual fact it all boils down to some fairly simple gameplay. Imagine yourself into a spooky future world, one where giant multinational corporations hold power, and living, solid holograms with superhuman abilities are created to do their dirty work. Two such warriors are Hammerfist (a big beefy bloke with a powerful robot arm) and Metalisis (a sort of futuristic Suzanne Dando) but - yikes! - there's been some sort of bizarre accident in the hologram holding pens and the two of them have got sort of fused together! For reasons best known to itself, Centro-Holographix (their controlling corporation) don't or won't help out, so fearing shutdown (or a life welded together - the scenario doesn't make it too clear) the Hammerfist-Metalisis amalgamation 'goes rogue'!
And this is where you come in. It's your job to guide them across the four loads, taking them from the underwater lab complex and holding pens of the first level, across the sea bed to the city (they're holograms so they don't need to breathe, remember?) and eventually up inside company HQ. Defeat the Master (the evil entity at the head of the corporation), separate the two characters out into different bodies, and everybody can live happily ever after (except The Master of course, because he's dead).
Yes, that's right, you've correctly deduced from the plot that what we're talking about here is a flip-screen adventure, each screen presenting you with a few baddies to beat up and one or two problems to solve before you can progress onto the next one. For many of the probs you'll want to slip between the two characters as suitable - Metalisis is especially useful when you need to leap onto platforms, while Hammerfist is the best option for just about everything else.
Presentation is monochrome and viewed directly from the side without the 3D look of the Last Ninja games and the problems tend to be of the reasonably easy bash-everything-you-can-until-something-interesting-happens school. For instance, your average screen will have you walk on in Hammerfist guise, so no obvious way out, kill a few baddies (normally huma guards or small robots), turn in Metalisis, leap onto an overhead platform, destroy a computer terminal and - lo and behold! - a door opens on the other side of the room. Quick! Nip through it and you're into the next room. Phew!
Okay, so perhaps that didn't sound too taxing, but that's not to suggest it isn't any good - basically Hammerfist is very much an action game, with everything paced at an action game sort of speed. The puzzles are challenging, but not so tricky that things keep grinding to a complete halt (or at least that's the theory anyway).
There's some lovely animation in here (Metalisis' back flip leaps are particularly nifty) and some impressive set pieces (like the room filled with rising and falling platforms which you can only move across by switching from one body to another, using the weight difference to control the floor's movement). The gameplay's got some neat touches too, like the fact you can move back a few screens to collect power ups when faced with a particularly tricky obstacle, and one of a handful of little twists is that you don't just leave the icons you don't need where they fall because their collective negative energy will wake The Master, effectively preventing you from collecting any extra strength for ages.
In conclusion then we were pretty impressed with Hammerfist. It isn't anything radically new, but the well thought-out gameplay and interesting ideas put it streets ahead of most other beat-'em-up adventures you find on the shelves. not quite a Megagame I think, but pretty darn groovy all the same.
He's big, he's bad, he's really mean/She's the sexiest woman you ever seen./They're holograms, it's strange but true/Findin' their bodies what they gotta do!"
Yes, Hammerfist launches himself onto the Spectrum and I guess if you're reading this you've got to have already torn the demo tape off the cover dribbled with excitement at the rad graphics and great gameplay. You know the game already so how about a little background just to set the scene before you rush back to the demo and get blasting?
Hammerfist is set in the future where The Master has desolated society by using the corporate power of Metro Holographix, a company whose power lies in its manipulation of powerful holograms.
The Master looks set for a good time make no mistake. Only one problem; two holograms have their personality modules damaged in a malfunction and become fused together. What's worse for the Master is that they immediately set about destroying the Metro Holographix centre and reuniting themselves with their real bodies by destroying the Master.
The centre is guarded by various computer security systems and driods of varying hardness. You can switch between the two characters Hammerfist and Metalisis, utilising their various skills for differing situations - Hammerfist using either his laser to fry a would-be platinum protagonist or his piston fist to hammer the rivets apart on droids or security doors. Metalisis is fit. Every sort of fit. She will leap and sproing around the screen in a flic flak manner (just like Priss out of Bladerunner, but not in a copyrightable sort of way, you understand) and kick the sheet metal out of anything in her way. (Arf) Control is difficult to begin with but easily mastered giving the player a wealth of control all available through well thought out joystick actions. Anyone who finds this tricky can use keyboard keys for some actions.
The security system isn't easy though and energy is drained from the current character each time they're hit and when a character's energy meter falls into the bottom row of the display and you change character then you cannot use that character until their level has built up to the second row. You can replenish your strength by collecting the numerous available icons.
The icons are central to the game as they provide energy and firepower for Hammerfist and Metalisis. Each time you destroy a security droid an icon is released. Each time an icon is not collected before it fizzes out, then that energy goes to the Master and increases his energy shown by the bar below his sleeping icon until he wakes up. Then the icons all become negative energy and so you must leave them to fizz out and go back to the Master and put him back to sleep.
Hammerfist is a great game. The graphics are clean and have achieved the illusive balance between action and clarity. The game play is superbly progressive, with 'safe' spots on screens so that you can have a breather and decide on your strategy. It's well hard, harder perhaps than even hammerfist himself.
Author: Vivid Image
Reviewer: Garth Sumpter
JIM SEX: 89%
"Phooar! The toughest of the tough. Get it!"
Spectrum, Amstrad £9.99
The master has been a bit of a naughty boy, so two of his holographic fighters have appeared from their chamber and set out to close down his system. What follows is screens and screens of strategic killing, using Hammerfist to dole out lethal power punches and his female counterpart to leap and somersault around the various levels. We looked at Hammerfist last month, and now we've got our mitts on the Spectrum and CPC versions which are actually very creditable conversions. The graphics are sharp (more so on the monochromatic Speccy game) and all the gameplay found on the other versions exist in these two. A great start for a fledgling company.
Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99
Amstrad CPC Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Commodore 64/128 Cassette: £9.99, Diskette: £14.99
Atari ST £24.99
Konix Multisystem TBA
WHERE'S ARNOLD RIMMER?
Hammerfist is the first game from Watford-based Vivid Image, the programming team behind System 3's Last Ninja 2. It is set in a future world where a huge corporate body called Centro-Holographix has total domination through its production of holograms. They have used their shadowy figures to overthrow the solids (humans) and take control of the two main cities on the planet. A hologram is created from the personality matrix of either a live or dead person. Two people have 'volunteered' their personal traits to the rulers. They produce two holograms codenamed Hammerfist and Metalisis.
Both are very good at their job - killing and maiming people - but a problem arises when they are placed in their stasis holding pens between jobs. A computer malfunction removes their homicidal tendencies and fuses them into one form. They realise the only way they can regain their individual identities is to fight their way through the cities and wastelands to destroy the heart of Centro-Holographix - The Master.
The player can swap between characters during the game. Hammerfist is a weapons expert, and fitted with three to prove it - one of his arms contains a cybernetic hammer-shaped fist (thus the name of the game!), the other is fitted with a heavy duty piston-powered fist and he always carries a laser gun (just in case).
Metalisis is faster and more agile than Hammerfist. She has no weapons, just a lethal high kick and headbutt.
As this game is set in the future, it runs to form that an atomic war has decimated the landscape and created all sorts of mutated creatures. It is these, as well as human guards, robots and huge mechanical monsters that must be avoided on your conquest.
As you kill an attacker glowing orbs appear, these contain useful attributes like energy, laser and piston fist top-ups (which are all limited). Though beware, if you leave the orbs they disintegrate and The Masters' energy level at the top of the screen shoots up. When it reaches maximum they are active, making the opponents produce energy-sapping deadly skulls when they are destroyed. If all the energy of one player is lost, they other automatically takes over till the other party has recovered. If both hit zero at the same time, you're dead! After a while The Masters' energy will wane and you're back to normal.
Power points are scattered around the complex. On contact, either Hammerfist or Metalisis will glow like a reject from Chernobyl. Though watch the relevant energy bar, too much power and the recipient explodes.
The characters that attack you on the first underwater complex level are only part of your problem. A computer security system prevents you from exiting each location, till everything is destroyed. Using a combination of both, characters must leap to and blast numerous computer terminals etc before progression.
On completion of the underwater complex, you journey through the ocean, finally landing on the coast of a ruined wasteland city - here you encounter a new definition of the word mutant... Deep within the city is the huge Centro-Holographix complex - and your final objective. Upon The Masters' destruction, Hammerfist and Metalisis earn a well-deserved rest, just long enough to charge up for Hammerfist II...
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